LIMA — The push for a central dispatch in Allen County continued last week, with Shawnee Township and county commissioners meeting to get the township on board.
For Allen County, a centralized dispatch system would bring together all area police and fire departments, along with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. The Lima and Shawnee Township are the only two areas in Allen County that haven’t joined up.
“If we can make a centralized dispatch for Allen County a reality and bring on Shawnee Township, (we can) make and create an opportunity down the road,” said Allen County Commissioner Beth Seibert. “We’re very respectful of the city of Lima and their decision not to be a part of the centralized project, but I think we want to keep that door open.”
The benefits of having a centralized dispatch could mean life or death in some situations. Shawnee Township could take the dispatch deal and shave precious seconds off their response times. According to Fire Chief Todd Truesdale, adapting to changes has become a necessity.
“We’ve got the golden hour when it comes to trauma, and fires are burning faster and hotter,” he said at the meeting. “So time is of the essence of everything we do.”
Truesdale attributed those factors to material changes that have been made in buildings. As houses have become more plastic and less brick, they have also become more flammable.
The effort to save time and save lives has not come without a financial cost though. Technology changes and increased work for dispatchers saw Shawnee’s dispatch costs swell to more than $266,000 a year in the 2010s. The $210,000 price from the county to bring on Shawnee dispatchers is still expensive, but could save money in the long term.
As internal talks continue for the Shawnee departments, who could make a decision within the next week, Allen County is hoping that they’ve made a strong enough case to bring them on board.
“I was very thrilled to see the fire chief and the police chief from Shawnee Township both in attendance with two of the trustees (Wednesday). I thought that we had a good conversation,” Seibert said. “We want them on. We want to make that happen because it will get us that much closer to centralized dispatch.”